Preparing EPUB and MOBI with Calibre

By Kathrese McKee | Feature

This post is more for me than for you, dear Reader. You see, I don’t finish writing a book every week. So when I wanted to add some bonus material to Mardan’s Mark, I had to go into the deep recesses of my brain to remember what I did three months ago for the first file. I hate re-inventing the wheel. To save myself a bit of trouble next time, I decided to record the process to jog my memory. If you are an indie author, perhaps you will find my process helpful.

People will tell you (correctly) that there are multiple roads to Amazon and Kobo and other distribution points. But this is my process:

  • Develop the manuscript in Scrivener. I love Scrivener because it makes writing scenes and tracking word count and a dozen other activities super easy. There was a learning curve, but it was worth every frustrating minute to manage this writing software. I use Scrivener in tandem with Microsoft Word during the development of the book.
  • Compile the manuscript to Word from Scrivener for critique partners and editor so we can use the Track Changes features to the fullest extent. Scrivener makes it easy to pull out a scene, a chapter, or a larger selection for sharing with others. And it creates frequent back-up files automatically (according to your settings.)
  • Continue to make changes to the Scrivener source up until it reaches final form. This gives me the most flexibility to “compile” any way I could possibly want: to text, to Word, to pdf, to MOBI, etc.
  • Finally, I compile to Word and use its Search / Replace function to accomplish preliminary formatting for left and right double quotes and such. I also begin the process of converting to HTML by utilizing the ability to detect italicized, underlined, and bolded fonts to enclose those sections in HTML tags, like <i>This is italics.</i>
  • Save File As a text file.
  • Open the text file in Notepad++ (I’m using a PC and Windows; Apple users will have to find their own tools.)
  • Add HTML tags to the entire book using Search / Replace in Notepad++. That sounds like a lot of work, but once you have the process worked out, it doesn’t take too long. Just be careful! It’s terribly easy to mess the whole thing up by working too fast.


In my opinion, Word is not the best way to format an ebook. Many people will disagree, but I am a  purist who likes the control provided by HTML. After all, HTML was developed for the very purpose of formatting digital text files, and it is not weighed down by all the baggage and superfluous functionality of Word. No Word files for me after the revisions are done! If I do require a Word file, I can quickly compile it using Scrivener from my master source file.

Some people are content to compile MOBI files directly from Scrivener, but I have observed unattractive differences between what Scrivener produces and my own, custom output.

Your HTML file is easy to view in your browser; you can immediately tell the effect of your changes as you go. Just save the HTML file and refresh your browser.

Another reason to use HTML is the way it is interpreted without difficulties by most ereaders. It is reliable, and what is more important than that?


  • As you get ready to pull the book together, put all the files (cover, map, author photo, html) into one folder.
  • Create a new file for each major step. For instance, the first step in coding the HTML is to add the Head, Body, and Paragraph tags. Do this and create a back-up copy. Then proceed to the next step. If you mess up, you can start again.
  • I strongly recommend Zen of eBook Formatting by Guido Henkel. Get the paperback version and mark it up. Keep it close. He knows what he’s talking about.

Okay, enough “techie talk.” I may write a separate post for the Search / Replace order I use. Let me get to my exciting announcements!

Mardan’s Mark in Print!

2for1 GiveawayYes, Hannah, Mardan’s Mark is now available in paperback from Amazon. Follow this link: Mardan’s Mark Print Version.

Healer’s Curse ARC Available

Healers Curse 3DThe Advance Reader Copy (ARC) for Healer’s Curse is available from now through the end of April 2015 for FREE. To get your copy, please subscribe. You will get to choose your preferred format: PDF, MOBI, and EPUB. In exchange for getting to read the novella for free, I ask that you post an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads as soon as you can after the book is published on Amazon. I plan to do that on Thursday, April 23.

Healer’s Curse is also available for pre-order on Amazon for $0.99.

Thanks so much for reading. Leave your questions and comments below.


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About the Author

Texas author, Kathrese McKee, writes epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life’s difficult questions. She is committed to exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship.

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